16 AprBusiness Travel. Closer to trouble than is really comfortable.

03:00, early February 2001. Passport control, Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv. “Welcome to Israel. would you like us to stamp your passport?” It might be late and it is my first trip to Israel, but I am alert to that one. A quick ” No thank you,” saves me from future travel complications.

With no checked bags to collect, I quickly found the hotel car and headed off for a well needed, but short sleep. The day had started in Zurich around 05:30, taken me to London to a conference and then on to Israel via Zurich for some client meetings. The next one of which was over breakfast at 07:30.

The next morning went by pretty routinely and then we headed back for a lunch meeting with the wonderful Cedric Olivestone of Bank Leumi, a stalwart of our industry and great character. As we got in to his car, he looked at us very nervously and asked: “Does your wife watch CNN?”. I replied in the negative, saying she was at work and in any case no CNN watcher. “Why do you ask, though?” “Well that is good to hear. There has been a suicide bombing downtown with several fatalities and it is all over the international news.”

We enjoyed a great lunch and then I jumped in a taxi and headed off back to Zurich. We were wheels up about 14:30; my first stay in Israel was a cursory 11 hours or so. I was really glad to head home.

Lessons Learned:  That was a “near miss”, but nothing more. I suppose, when your number is up, that is it.

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